Southeast Getaway Guide
Excellent maps and destination insights are wrapped into one handy book
By Susan J. Young
If you’re headed for a destination or a port within the Southeast, don’t leave home without Rand McNally’s Southeast Getaway Guide. The granddaddy of all map companies has created a guide that integrates those maps with fun reading that sets the stage at select southern destinations -- telling you “what to eat, what to buy and what to do?”
The main reason to buy this softcover book is for having handy, reliable maps in one book. No more unfolding a huge map in the car and then pulling out the next one when you cross the state line.
Just thumb through this book and, presto, the pages are easy to access without crowding the car or blocking visibility for the driver.
A fold-out flap on the back inside cover can be tucked back into the book at any point. Thus, you may “save your place” in viewing a specific map. So you don’t have to relocate that map all over again if you put the book down on the seat or stop for a rest break.
As expected for any Rand McNally product, this book is chock full of maps. Giving a broad perspective is a national map and also a Southeast map; both are spread over two pages.
Then the nitty gritty stuff emerges. To find the correct, more localized map for your journey, flip to the front inside cover. A handy “Pagefinder Map” splits the Southeast into blocks of territory slugged with numbers.
For example, if you’re traveling to Apalachicola and Tallahassee, FL, you’ll find the block for that locale and see that the appropriate maps you need are on page 52-53.
In the back of the book is a national map that plots mileage segments between major cities. And there’s a secondary grid mileage chart for calculating the distance from Raleigh, NC, to Charleston, WV, for example.
A Step Beyond
Yes, the easy-to-read maps are surely the best reason for buying this book. But this book goes beyond simple mapping. It strives to give a few more gleanings about the places along the way.
For example, If you see a large yellow screened area on a map (like that shown at left*), it means the book has a separate section about that area. You’ll find these for places of charm, historic importance or visitor popularity.
For example, the book has yellow around Memphis, TN; Asheville, NC; Charleston, SC; and the plantation area around St. Francisville, LA, to name a few locales.
Then you turn to the back of the book for three- to four-page profiles of these specific destinations. Included are color photographs, historical information, other maps, and brief blurbs of helpful tourist fare – like what to eat, where to buy, what to do.
So in VA, you’ll learn to head for Stratford Hall Plantation’s dining room to chow down on ham, biscuits, crab soup and crab cakes. In MS, you’ll learn about the Great American River Balloon Race as a “what to do” option.
Following these succinct break-out sections on highlighted destinations, the book delves into several drive trip itineraries such as a Deep South trip through AL and TN, an exploration along Georgia and Florida’s Historic Waterfront, a road ramble through Unexpected Arkansas (see the opening page at right*), or a scenic drive along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Other perks of the book are short but sweet; you’ll find a list of lodging chain Web sites and toll-free numbers; contact information for determining road construction and road conditions; and state tourism office contact information.
We found this book a pleasure to peruse given its artiful yet easy-to-navigate layout and its extensive color photos and maps.
That said, the Southeast Guide isn’t a “complete guidebook” to any one area. If you’re seeking detailed guidebook fare -- such as a list of 35 hotel reviews for a city or theme park attraction entry specifics like hours or children’s fees -- this book isn't the right choice.
Rather, the Southeast Getaway Guide is a “complete map book” with a “sampling of gleanings about select destinations.” We immensely liked the concept. It gave a distinct flavor to the destinations beyond just the logistics.
We’d suggest taking this guide along on your trip as a “must-have” book.
But supplement it with one of those detailed, place-by-place guidebooks of the Fodor’s or Frommer’s variety.
Then you’ll be armed with the best resources for a full-bodied road trip throughout the South.
ISBN- 13: 978-0-5289-5836-6
ISBN- 10: 0-528-95836-4
List Price: $14.95 for the softcover edition.